A note from me (Diana):
Medieval history is one of my passions, and I enjoy hosting authors who write the kind of books I devour. Barbara, another author from The Wild Rose Press, whose one-word description, CURIOUS, is the word I always use to describe myself.
For writers, she mentioned several of my writing how-to go-to books. One of the first I ever read was Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer. Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass was my go-to before I started most of my books, and the companion workbook is a valuable tool. I also recently read Debra Dixon's Goal, Motivation and Conflict.
I re-read a lot of the how-to books on my shelf as a refresher before I start writing a new book, too.
How can I not have a kindred soul in Barbara, who loves Sharon Kay Penman? Her classic THE SUNNE IN SPLENDOUR was one of the most beautiful I've ever read.
Enjoy meeting Barbara!
Thanks for having me here today, Diana. Before we get started, I’d like to announce a sale! As part of a Birthday Month Celebration, Heart of the Phoenix is only 99 cents!
My official biography sounds a little as if I were having fun with the descriptions, but it is, in fact, true. When I entered college, I wanted to study international relations. But it wasn’t long before my love of history had concentrated in ancient through the Renaissance periods, especially ancient history. The myths and traditions of other cultures were fascinating, and the idea of studying earlier civilizations through archeology really captured me. But the more I studied it, the more I realized that going on digs probably was not my thing. I’d rather work on analyzing the material once it was uncovered. Then, as they say, life happened—marriage, children, and eventually two other careers I absolutely loved—journalism and teaching.
I never lost my love of the past, however. And now I’m lucky enough to be creating stories of the men and women who might have lived then. It’s like finding old friends and sharing their tales with new friends. All of you.
What type of music do you enjoy relaxing to?
Broadway. I like the soundtracks, not highlight music because I like to follow the story as I hear it. But I will listen to the Broadway station on a certain satellite network. I also like an eclectic variety—some pop, some rock, some country. Some classical but, again, not every composer and not every piece by composers I do like. To me, relaxing is not falling-asleep music. That’s a whole different variety. J
What is your favorite food? What food do you seek when you’re sad, sort of a comfort food?
One favorite food is like trying to pick out one favorite book or movie or song. As a child, it might have been my mother’s apple pie. I have never eaten apple pie to compare to hers. Even now, when I try it from her recipe, it never matches up. But then, everything she cooked was tops. (Moms are the best cooks!!)
However, I’ll have to say, I favor good sweet and sour chicken and crab Rangoon.
Comfort food: a particular fast food fried chicken. I indulge very infrequently, though. Calories, etc.
Describe yourself in one word.
If you have 2 hours free time tonight, what would you rather do? Why?
Read or watch a movie I haven’t seen before. Reading is my research, my entertainment, my pastime, and, sometimes, my escape. Watching a new movie allows me to relax and enjoy myself—with the understanding that I get to choose the movie.
If I’m working—grading papers, or doing anything but writing—I can have a movie I like that I’ve seen a dozen times in the background, just for ‘company.’ I don’t have to give my attention to it. I know it so well, one part of my mind follows while the other part works. But that doesn’t hold true when I’m trying to write on my WIP. Then I need quiet and all my concentration.
What kind of books do you love to read? Why? Do you read different genres when you’re writing versus not writing?
I enjoy history (ancient, medieval and Renaissance usually), fiction, historical romance, some biographical research works. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in research, time gets away from me. But usually, I read historical. I enjoy a good historical mystery—I like the C.S. Harris Sebastian St. Cyr Regency mystery series and I did enjoy Sharon Kay Penman’s medieval ones, although she hasn’t added to that for awhile.
As for what I read as I write—usually I read in different subgenres. When I’m working on medieval, I read Regency or early Victorian, perhaps a Georgian or a Viking. And of course I read books published by my friends, whatever genres they cover--contemporary, Western, paranormal, YA, or others.
What else have you written already?
THE HEART OF THE PHOENIX is my second published work. It features characters introduced in my first novel, SILVERHAWK. The very first book I wrote featured characters from the same family as the other two, but it needs significant work before it can ever be published. It’s Roark and Alyss’s story, and while I love it, I have to admit it is a bit long.
What are you working on now?
I’m wrapping up a novella that’s Lord Henry and Lady Katherine’s story. Henry has been featured in all the other books. I thought it was time he had his own starring role.
What books can you recommend to aspiring writers to improve on style, character development, plot, structure, dialogue, etc? And what is your must-have book for writing?
A craft book that should be in all beginning writers’ library—and my ‘must have’—is Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer. Don’t be fooled by the copyright date. Many eminent writing coaches today cite it. Then there are the works of Donald Maass, Writing the Breakout Novel; Debra Dixon, Goal, Motivation and Conflict; James Scott Bell, Plot and Structure. Leigh Michaels also has some good craft titles. One especially I enjoy is Writing Between the Sexes, which looks at how men and women communicate differently.
But there are several fine craft books available and often what sets one apart from the other is how the individual writer connects with the way that author explains things. I recommend looking over a variety of books named by several people, then seeing which one gives you that “so that’s the way it’s done!” or “ahah!” moment.
Read About THE HEART OF THE PHOENIX
Lady Evelynn’s childhood hero is home—bitter, hard, tempting as sin. And haunted by secrets. A now-grown Evie offers friendship, but Sir Stephen's cruel rejection crushes her, and she resolves to forget him. Yet when an unexpected war throws them together, she finds love isn’t so easy to dismiss. If only the king hadn’t betrothed her to another.
Sir Stephen lives a double life while he seeks the treacherous outlaws who murdered his friends. Driven by revenge, he thinks his heart is closed to love. His childhood shadow, Lady Evie, unexpectedly challenges that belief. He rebuffs her, but he can’t forget her, although he knows she’s to wed the king’s favorite.
When his drive for vengeance leads to Evie’s kidnapping, Stephen must choose between retribution and the love he’s denied too long. Surely King John will see reason. Convict the murderers; convince the king. Simple. Until a startling revelation threatens everything.
Evie could tell Stephen was angry now by the way he glowered and roared in that whispery sort of way no one else could hear, but left her with no doubt of his displeasure.
“Your betrothed.” He bent and scooped her off the floor.
“What? What about him?”
“That’s the identity of the illustrious lord who’s sharing passage with us.”
“You’re drunk. And put me down. I’m perfectly capable of getting up on my own.”
“Be quiet. You have blood on your leg.”
“Of course I do. I tripped and fell trying to answer your pounding when you could easily have opened—” His words finally penetrated her throbbing head. “I’m bleeding?”
Oh, blast. The contents of her—empty—stomach churned. She attended the villagers’ hurts, bound the cuts and scrapes of servants and their children. The sight of their blood bothered her not a whit. But her own? Black spots danced at the corners of her vision, becoming larger and larger until she heard Stephen’s voice.
“Evie, Evie. What the hell?”
His voice echoed so far away. If she didn’t know better, she’d vow he sounded alarmed. Perhaps she’d close her eyes for a moment. As the ringing in her ears crescendoed, she recalled his words. Betrothed.
Her betrothed was on board?
Dear Lord, just let me die.
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